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BC ranks high in opposition to census changes: poll

B.C. has emerged as a mainstay of opposition to government census changes according to an Angus Reid poll.

The poll shows that 53 per cent of B.C. residents surveyed opposed removing the mandatory long-form census, second only to 54 per cent opposing in Ontario.

Since announcing the 2011 census will be collected via a shorter, voluntary survey versus a traditional mandatory long form questionnaire, a public debate has emerged around Canada’s premier collection of national hard data.

Critics allege that the changes will result in less accurate census information, which policy makers, funding bodies, non-profit organizations and many others use to inform important day-to-day decisions.

Statscan chief Munir Sheikh resigned last week after stating that he could not support the government in its decision. Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement and Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have been in the spotlight defending the government’s position.

The government's main argument for the changes, that the long form census is intrusive to individual privacy and Canadians should therefore not have to answer, was struck down by the survey.

Only 24 per cent of respondents agreed with that notion.

It was found that 59 per cent think that the census garners important information for policy making.

Additionally, 52 per cent think that that the government should reverse its decisions and keep the long form mandatory census.

The poll was taken from July 22 to July 23 and surveyed a representative sample of 1,012 Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. Panelists register to receive invitations to complete surveys that pay from $1 to $5 in survey dollars, according to a rules and regulations form. Survey dollars can be redeemed in cheque form or donated to charity, according to a rules and regulations sheet.

The city of Kelowna and the Union of BC Municipalities have begun a letter-writing campaign to convince the government to abandon the changes planned.

Justin Langille reports on the landscape of work for The Tyee.

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